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Wildlife Management Areas

Clear Creek WMA (MAP) Goose Harvest Totals | Sacramento-Wilcox

Clear Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) at the upper end of Lake McConaughy encompasses more than 6,200 acres of land and water depending on lake elevation.

Owned by Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission leases this area for wildlife management and public use access. 

Managed by the Game and Parks Wildlife Division, Clear Creek WMA is supported by funds from the sale of Nebraska hunting and fishing permits, habitat stamps, plus federal funds from the excise tax on outdoor equipment. Clear Creek WMA provides public access to some excellent deer, turkey, pheasant and waterfowl hunting as well as fishing and mushroom hunting. Non-toxic shot is required on the entire Clear Creek WMA for all shotgun ammunition whether you are hunting doves, pheasants or waterfowl. 

Clear Creek WMA includes four different designated areas that can seem complex and confusing with different uses and regulations. This pamphlet should help hunters, and other outdoor users to determine which areas are open to certain hunting uses throughout the year. Please use the map to help you understand these area designations.


Wildlife Management Area (WMA)


The eastern portion of the Clear Creek WMA is called the Wildlife Management Area and is a traditional wildlife management area that is open to all hunting, trapping and fishing within the appropriate seasons. This area encompasses more than 3,200 acres of riparian woodlands, wetlands, river channel, lake bed and  upland grasslands. This area borders the Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area on the east, Special Hunting Area on the northwest, and the seasonal refuge on the southwest (please refer to map).

Special Hunting Area (SHA)


Another designation on the north side of the river is called the Special Hunting Area, formerly known as the Controlled Hunting Area (CHA) or firing line. This area consists of about 300 acres where there are 11 pit blinds for waterfowl hunting. The SHA is open to hunting waterfowl and other game species until the check station opens on the Monday before Thanksgiving to Feb. 1 or as otherwise posted. During the time when the check station is open, hunters must check in at the check station office and can only hunt within the provided blinds.  Downed birds may be retrieved from the Clear Creek Seasonal Refuge, although no firearms are allowed there.

Hunters are encouraged to use hunting dogs to retrieve downed birds, however, caution should be used when ice develops on the river and wetlands. Up to five blinds at the SHA are available by reservation. Hunters may apply for reservation dates during Aug. and Sept., and a drawing is held the first Wed. in Oct.  Reservation applications are available at the Clear Creek WMA field office or at the District IV Office in North Platte.  If any advance reservation dates remain after the drawing, hunters may call the District IV Office in North Platte at 308-535-8025 to reserve one. No more than two advance reservations are allowed per individual.  Remaining blinds are allocated each day by a drawing conducted 45 minutes before legal shooting hours for that day. The check station opens 1 ½ hours before drawing time. The drawing determines the order of blind selection. Blinds not allocated in the drawing and those vacated during the day will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

Hunters may hunt only with the group they registered with for the drawing. Resident hunters age 16 and older and all nonresidents must have a valid Nebraska Hunting Permit, Habitat Stamp, Nebraska Waterfowl Stamp, Federal Migratory Waterfowl Stamp, and HIP registration. Permits and stamps are not sold on the area, so purchase these required permits and stamps in advance. Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program number (HIP) is required by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Nebraska Game and Parks Commission regulations. HIP registration is free. It is available 24 hours a day by calling toll-free 1-888-403-2473 or online a www.outdoornebraska.org.

Weather conditions can affect the goose harvest immensely. Early winter storms, cold, and snow accumulation in Canada and the northern states can prompt early waterfowl migrations into the North Platte Valley. Such conditions can mean good numbers of geese at Clear Creek but this same weather can push geese further south as well. If these birds continue to hold on the area for an extended period, they become very decoy and blind shy.  The best harvest levels at Clear Creek come when there are numerous migration occurrences which push new groups of geese into the area all season long.


Clear Creek Seasonal Refuge


This portion of the Clear Creek WMA consists of 2,500 acres west of the Special Hunting Area on both the north and south sides of the North Platte River. This area does not include the Garden County Refuge which has different regulations (see map). The Clear Creek Seasonal Refuge is closed to waterfowl hunting at all times except for an area on the eastern boundary where posted as open to waterfowl hunting.  All waterfowl blinds must be removed at the end of the day (day use only). The Clear Creek Seasonal Refuge is open to hunting, fishing, trapping, and other outdoor access except  from the Monday before Thanksgiving until February 15th or as authorized. This area provides good pheasant and deer hunting opportunities until the Monday before Thanksgiving.

Garden County Refuge portion of Clear Creek WMA


This area is designated as the portion on the North Platte River and land within 110 yards of the river banks or as posted with “State of Nebraska Game Bird Sanctuary signs”, in Garden County, Nebraska. The Garden County Refuge is closed to all bird hunting. It is closed to all hunting except deer hunting is allowed during all legal seasons until the refuge closes on the Monday before Thanksgiving.

Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area (SRA)


This area lies east of the Wildlife Management Area. Hunting is permitted from the first Tuesday following Labor Day through the conclusion of spring turkey season, unless prohibited or restricted by appropriate signs or specific area regulations. Hunting is prohibited within 100 yards of any public use facility or activity area, including picnic areas, campgrounds, cabins, boat ramps, parking lots, and concession areas.

Other Recreation

The North Platte River upstream from Lake McConaughy offers fishing opportunity for a variety of species including white bass, walleye, and channel catfish. Numerous common carp provide recreational angling, spearing, and bowfishing. Clear Creek WMA is also popular with hikers, mushroom hunters, and bird watchers. Birders enjoy some excellent viewing opportunities during both spring and fall migrations. They can spot most species of waterfowl and shore birds found in the Central Flyway as well as many grassland species. From mid-February to mid-April many Sandhill cranes stage along the North Platte River and wet meadows on the area. Many folks have seen some of the numerous river otter that call the area home as well.


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